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For those of you who don’t know about STRYD: It’s a running power meter and an accurate footpod
For those of you who don’t know about the Suunto SPARTAN TRAINER (WHR): It’s probably the go-to tri-specific BUDGET watch of any current model. It’s a mean running watch too, by inference.
FIRST THOUGHTS: SST (It’s too long to keep writing the name)
The SPARTAN TRAINER (WHR) uses the SPARTAN firmware and that has native support for running power data. Polar does too in the V800 and Garmin does not. But various Garmin CIQ apps mean that POWER data can be integrated. the point being that not every sports watch can handle running with POWER. As I’ve said, those that can are just: the Polar V800; any Suunto SPARTAN; and any Garmin that supports CIQ (effectively the more expensive ones like the Forerunner 235 and above)
The SPARTAN TRAINER (WHR) is thus, sort of, the cheapest new watch to buy if you also want to buy a STRYD. OK the soon-to-be-replaced V800 is sometimes on sale; so if I say, “The Suunto £200+ish SPARTAN TRAINER (WHR) is the cheapest current-model watch with native support for STRYD” then that will be true enough for the pedant in me.
Generally it seems a GOOD combo.
Here’s What I Expected
- That SPARTAN TRAINER (WHR) integration would work 100% but known SPARTAN firmware issues would be unchanged;
- That MOVESCOUNT would be fine as would Golden Cheetah; BUT
- I expected to have problems importing the data into SportTracks 3.1.
Here’s What I ACTUALLY Found
- MOVESCOUNT displays power. YAY! (The watch did too 😉 )
- MOVESCOUNT allows a ‘proper’ selection of multiple power-based metrics for RUNNING profiles. YAY!! ie it has lap, max and various moving average powers. But not, for example, IF and NP – those will often be calculated after-the-fact by your analysis tool (not MOVESCOUNT).
- BUT Power Zones & Power Alerts are NOT available for RUNNING. No watch manufacturer yet handles RUNNING POWER ZONES fully properly as you would get for cycling, although STRYD have the POWER RACE app for Garmin CIQ that effectively introduces POWER alerts.
- Whilst the TRAINER’s GPS accuracy is market-leading (IMHO) the instant pace is still lacking. This instant pace issue is true of EVERY running watch. When working as a footpod, STRYD effectively delivers accurate ‘instant running pace’ when paired to the TRAINER. To do that it must be paired as a footpod and NOT as a power pod.
- The known issue is that when paired as a footpod STRYD cannot then also be paired to any SPARTAN for power. It must be one or the other. The temporary workaround is to buy a cheap-as-chips MILESTONE footpod (link has a discount code) for the instant pace. It’s not as good as STRYD but it’s super cheap. Suunto have told me that they are definitely working on fixing this issue with some urgency (not support, other people). Then you can move the Milestone to another pair of shoes.
- POWER data imports into 3rd party products like Golden Cheetah and SportTracks (desktop, below). Garmin CIQ running power data has ‘issues’ when trying to import into 3rd party products (workarounds exist).
- Pairing STRYD with a SPARTAN is quick and easy. Another known issue is that you can’t save multiple pairings of the same sensor type AND you can’t have a bike PM and a running PM paired at the same time. This is acceptable for training but kinda NOT for an actual race.
What this actually means
Suunto were first to support running-with-power and the Polar and Garmin platforms have, sort of, caught up; albeit to varying degrees. They recognise that there are missing bits of functionality and, we trust, these will be added promptly now that STRYD is becoming more widely used. FYI as an aside; in the recovery tent after Ironman Bolton BOTH PEOPLE SITTING IMMEDIATELY NEXT TO ME HAD STRYDs! they are not rare. (OK I sat next to them to strike a conversation about STRYD and marathon pacing up hills 😉 but the point stands).
How people pace themselves varies. Personally I use POWER ALERTS when cycling A LOT. I REALLY would use them A LOT when running/racing/training with power. Others use zones; I don’t. We’re all different. I kinda remember a target wattage and just get on with the workout; others want to know what power zone they are in…a NOT UNreasonable request. So, currently, ‘It’s tricky‘ to get these value-added RUNNING POWER features. STRYD have worked on CIQ apps, I imagine because a) they can and b) they see Garmin as a larger platform
STRYD support for the SPARTAN TRAINER gives it an edge FOR SOME PEOPLE over Polar M430 which is a competing watch BUT which doesn’t (yet) support STRYD. I’ve no idea why Polar did not do that for the release. +1 for Suunto in the budget end of the tri market and budget-to-mid end of the running market.
Polar, Suunto and Garmin all need to get their running power act together in some shape or form to deliver a proper POWER offering. C’mon people get with the programme.
If you are unsure then please read the STRYD Review.
STRYD Detailed Review (here)
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